Mafia making killing from agriculture, says Italian industry body

"The production, transport, distribution and sale" of food products has become big business for what Coldiretti has called "agromafia" groups

Italian organised crime generated a turnover of 21.8 billion euros from agriculture in 2017, a 30 percent increase on the previous year, major agriculture industry body Coldiretti announced Wednesday.

"The production, transport, distribution and sale" of food products has become big business for what Coldiretti has called "agromafia" groups, the organisation said on Wednesday, Italy's national day of remembrance for mafia victims.

Coldiretti, Italy's largest agriculture industry association, claims that the country's home-grown criminal syndicates manipulate the agri-food market thanks to their stranglehold on entire sectors of the agricultural industry.

"They set harvest prices, manage transport and distribution and control entire supermarkets chains," it said.

"They destroy competition and the legal free market, stifle honest entrepreneurs and seriously compromise the quality and safety of products."

In January, Italian and German police rounded up more than 100 suspects in a vast anti-mafia operation that cracked open a crime empire which got fat on food.

The Farao-Marincola clan had taken control of the bakery market in its stronghold of Ciro before developing a supply line for wine, cheese and olive oil to restaurants in Germany.

Wiretaps revealed that in Germany the gang was intimidating owners of restaurants, pizza and ice cream parlours, forcing them to buy products from the companies the group controlled.